Public knowledge of heart attack in a Nepalese population survey

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Limited knowledge of heart attack symptoms may prevent patients from seeking time-dependent thrombolytic therapy, an intervention that offers impressive survival benefit. Previous studies carried out in developed countries demonstrated a deficit of knowledge about a wide range of heart attack symptoms. The aim of this study was to describe knowledge of heart attack, knowledge of heart attack symptoms, and anticipated first response to symptoms among the lay public in Nepal.

METHODS

A total of 1192 participants (657 men and 535 women age 16 to 88 years old) were interviewed in a cross-sectional manner. Those <16 years of age, all health professionals, and individuals with a history of heart attack were excluded.

RESULTS

A total of 862 (72.3%) participants had heard of heart attack. Significantly more male than female participants had heard of heart attack (P <.001). Of the respondents, 91.7% with ≥10 years of education (ED-2) had heard of heart of attack, whereas only 54% respondents with <10 years of education or who were illiterate (unable to read and write) (ED-1) had heard of heart attack, and in both the male and female populations, a higher percentage of the ED-2 group had heard of heart attack than the ED-1 group (92.6% vs. 60% and 85.6% vs. 49.6%, respectively). A significantly higher number of respondents from 31 to 50 years of age (AGE-2) had heard of heart attack than those 16 to 30 years of age (AGE-1) and those >50 years of age (AGE-3) (P <.001). Among 862 respondents who had heard of heart attack, 21.3% could not name any heart attack symptoms. A total of 16 different heart attack symptoms were named. Fainting or collapsing (48%), chest pain (22.4%), shortness of breath (9%), dizziness (8.4%), palpitations (7.4%), and sweating (7.4%) were the leading symptoms named by respondents. Fainting or collapsing and chest pain and shortness of breath were named more frequently among the ED-2 group respondents and the AGE-3 group men. Only 3.7% could name ≥2 typical heart attack symptoms. A significantly larger number of the ED-2 group named ≥2 typical symptoms than their counterparts (P <0.001). A large number (77.6%) of respondents preferred immediate hospital referral and/or doctor consultation after a heart attack.

CONCLUSIONS

In Nepal, better-educated men are more aware of heart attack. Fainting or collapsing and chest pain and shortness of breath were leading heart attack symptoms named by the general population. Public heart attack awareness is not adequate and knowledge of wide range of heart attack symptoms is deficient in the Nepalese general population.

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